Vlado Martek was born in 1951 in Zagreb. He graduated from the University of Zagreb, major in Literature and Philosophy. From 1975 until 1978 he was a member of informal Group of Six Authors, and had shown exhibitions-actions with them and initiated the magazine-catalogue Maj 75 (May 75). He has shown his work in a number of solo exhibitions. By vocation Martek has been a (pre)poet and multimedia nomadic author. His work includes actions, agitations, ambiences, murals, poetry, texts on his own work (metatheory),texts on other artists (metareview), graffiti, land art, graphics, painting, author's books, sculpture, poetry, and objects. Since 1979 he has been working in a public library.
In this text I would like to speak about Vlado Martek primarily as a poet. This may seem questionable, because it might cause the impression that his varied and comprehensive oeuvre is in this way reduced to just one field. However, it is important to speak about Martek as a poet, because in this way the radical imperative of defining the field of poetry is imposed upon us. In order to attempt to do that, I must first briefly outline the institutional field of literature, and within that, the field of poetry in the context of the influence that cultural studies have had on the study of literature.
In thinking about how to conceptualize ecopoetics, one scheme I have played with groups the field into eight vectors of attention, or “compass points.” (I was inspired by Robert Smithson’s “boxing the compass” of his Spiral Jetty: “South by West: mud, salt crystals, rocks, water. Southwest by South: mud, salt crystals, rocks, water. Southwest by West: mud, salt crystals, rocks, water. West by South: mud, salt crystals, rocks, water. West: mud, salt crystals, rocks, water,” etc. ) I array these ecopoetics compass points in relation to a kind of spatiotemporal mappemunde that is more conceptual than geographical. The trope of westward movement—a fiction that has guided much of Western history—provisionally organizes the temporal frame, while the trope of economic North and South, another partial fiction used to sort geopolitical realities, organizes the spatial frame.
While sound marks the “true North” of the ecopoetics compass, Northeast and East point to conceptual and procedural writing and to documentary and research poetics, respectively: modes of writing keyed explicitly to the past. Conceptual and procedural writing occupy the Northeast front out of their instructive orientation to European modernism (more explicitly than any orientation to more recent developments in poetics around the globe), while documentary and research-based practices work directly with history, and/or what has been documented, as their primary material.
Tim Wright's poem (see previous post, Magazines #3) plays off a fusion of open field and New York poetics pioneered by poets such as Laurie Duggan and Pam Brown; yet 'Suns' subscribes to neither, nor is antiformalist in the way of his precursors. Rather, I suggest Wright is conceptual, aformalist, in employing a kind of relaxed proceduralism. Which might sound like Ashbery by another name - yet the poem produced is unlike Ashbery's - for one thing, the tone is very different, its play both more random and more active.